Grace Elizabeth wanted to enter the field of medical science since she was a young girl. And she did. After completing a course in nursing from Christian Medical College in Vellore, she completed her Masters from the US. But her journey has not been an easy one. Fortunately, she had her family and husband by her side.
Even as a young girl, I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field and used to look forward to getting admission in the Christian Medical College in Vellore. In the year 2000, I gave my exams, went for the interviews and was selected for the nursing program there. Life was never easy as a nursing student – each day was a challenge, each day taught us something new. We learnt to understand the basics of humanity as we were groomed to become full-fledged nurses.
We saw everything – from smiles on the faces of parents on seeing their newborns, to the heart wrenching cries of people letting go of their loved ones. Nursing taught me how to feel, touch and understand like a patient who is undergoing treatment.
Those four years passed very soon and I became a registered nurse. I was sent to Kolhapur to work for a small hospital as a part of my service obligation to CMCH Vellore. Being there, I learnt what it is like to live with a meagre salary of Rs. 2,000 a month. The patients coming in were from weaker economic backgrounds and couldn’t afford treatment in bigger hospitals. I learnt to hold their hands and be their yard stick as they walked. And the happiness and satisfaction that I saw in their eyes made me realize that money or fame is not what gives us joy. It is the feeling of being cared for; the feeling of knowing that there is someone to look up to when things go wrong. That’s all one needs, to feel satisfied. All I have with me from working in Kolhapur is the memory of having a friend who was the hospital ayah. She was not complicated. Simple things mattered to her. We cooked together, ate together and worked together.
I got married in 2006 to a person who helped me grow, succeed and blossom. I quit bedside nursing for a few years after that. In this period, I did some teaching and also became a mother of two children. In 2014, my husband encouraged me to try going for Masters in nursing.
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I wasn’t sure because I had lost touch with my studies and nursing too, and going for higher education wouldn’t be an easy step. But then I was constantly encouraged by my mother-in-law. She told me that it is never too late to do what you want. Eventually, I applied for my Masters in the US and was accepted into the program in August 2014. My in-laws were also ready to support me financially as I took up the program.
From that point on, all I could think about was how would my kids stay without me, my daughter being 1.5 years old and my son being 5 – how would my husband manage the kids alone? But all my questions took a back once I spoke with him. He held my hands and said – “You go on and study, I will take care of the kids here.”
My journey in the US has not been an easy one. There was a lot to study and several assignments to submit, all of which took a lot of time and energy. Meanwhile, my strong support in India, my husband, took up the assignment of managing work and kids back home. If it were not for him, I would never have reached where I am today. He prepares lunch for our kids every morning, gets them dressed, drops them to school, and takes care of all their needs – all on his own. He is forced to skip several meetings at his workplace if the domestic help at home takes a leave. I thank God every day for a husband like him. He has crossed mountains and valleys to keep our little family moving forward, and he does everything very selflessly.
I graduated in December 2015.
I am waiting for my work permit to come through now and soon, God willing, I will be able to call my spouse and my kids to this country too. I will hug them for a long long time. No one can take that time away from me – till then, I will wait patiently.
This post is dedicated to my husband – thank you!
– Grace Elizabeth